Oldtimer's Take: Burning Questions

If you take a trip to Heritage Hall or get a chance to watch the players working out you will discover quickly that there is a new fire burning that has replaced what had become routine for USC football. Life is made up of new beginnings. And USC football is the Land of New Beginnings.

If you take a trip to Heritage Hall or get a chance to get over to USC and watch the players working out you will discover quickly that there is a new fire burning there that has replaced what had become routine for USC football. Life is made up of new beginnings. And USC football is the Land of New Beginnings. I'm more excited about spring and fall practice and the upcoming season than I've been in years.

There is a new fire burning over here at SCPlaybook on Scout .com. An old proverb says that two is better than one. And having Scott Schader come over to work with Kevin Carden has breathed new life into Scout's website. They are to be applauded for all their good work keeping us updated about the transition from Pete Carroll to Lane Kiffin, signing day, offers to 2011 recruits, the hiring of new coaches, the NCAA investigation and winter conditioning and workouts.

Along with Scott and Kevin we have been blessed with insights from the dean of Southern California sports writers and editors Loel Schader. A lot of what we know today about high school athletes and USC football was pioneered by Loel Schrader. He led the way in keeping me and my dad and grandpa up to date on USC football and high school sports. He's simply the best there ever has been at covering the Trojans.

USC is in the process right now of preparing for the 2010 season. They prepare, practice and then play. There's so many things to talk about in the weeks ahead I wonder if we will have time to get it all in before the season starts Sept 2nd at 5:00pm Hawaii time. Mrs. SColdtimer and I will be there in celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary and the start of new exciting era at USC.

Here are some topics for discussion that I'll just touch the mountain top right now and we will get deeper into in the weeks to come.

What kind of an offense will we see under Lane Kiffin?

It will be balanced pro-style offense based around getting the ball to USC's playmakers. The Trojans may have recruited one of their best classes of playmakers ever in 2010. I believe WR Robert Woods could be a future Heisman candidate unless it's Dillon Baxter or DJ Morgan. Wide receivers Kyle Prater and Dillon Baxter have been impressing current USC players at winter workouts right now. I had a chance to see Baxter at the Rising Stars Camp last year. He has an awareness and elusiveness, and no one could cover him. Kyle Prater has been reminding players in workouts of a bigger Duane Jarrett.

Tailback DJ Morgan is fast, explosive and is blessed with wonderful instincts and moves. We have to see how his knee heals, but we know Matt Barkley is going to be blessed with a lot of offensive weapons in his sophomore and junior years.

What kind of defense will we see under Monte Kiffin?

USC's defense is going to be sound and there is going to be fewer mistakes. And USC is going to tackle better than they did in 2009. The Trojans alignments and blitz packages should be similar to Pete Carroll's. Carroll was a disciple of Monte Kiffin. Lane will leave the running of the defense to his dad. USC will use its corners to pressure and they will be physical. The Trojans will use their safeties to go to the football.

Ed Orgeron is going to be the enforcer on the coaching staff. Look for the defense to be tougher, more disciplined and be in the right place. USC is going to be stronger after winter conditioning. No one will take a play off under with Orgeron back coaching the defensive line. USC will penetrate, punish and pursue. If a player isn't in position and making tackles he will not play.

What will come of the NCAA hearing?

With the NCAA you are guilty until proven innocent. The focus of last week in Arizona was USC defending itself and that is a tough position to be in. But I believe the accusation of a lack of institutional control has been blown way out of proportion.

One thing I do know for sure is this whole thing has gone on way too long, and the sooner that USC can get rid of it the better, however the outcome. It's time to pour some water on a fire that's been burning for years and damaging USC football, basketball and the school. A fire like this should never have been allowed to burn this long. Maybe it's time to penalize the NCAA for its tardiness. What happened to the right of a speedy trial?

USC has already handed out a lot of scholarship offers for 2011.

Kiffin and Orgeron are rebuilding the wall around Southern California. Urban Myer will never cross the California border again. If there was a Top Gun school for recruiters Kiffin and Orgeron would be the pilot and navigator at the top of the list. We are not going to see top kids leaving Los Angeles, and they are going after top recruits nationally to fill needs in USC's depth chart right now.

Recruiting services base their team rankings on how many stars recruits have. They don't take into consideration what players a team needs. Sometimes a three-star recruit like Anthony Brown can win you a championship. I saw him at Rising Stars Camp last year and he is a winner.

Anthony Brown is a kid who went to all the camps and earned a scholarship with his five-star heart. Brown wanted to be a Trojan just like defensive backs Dion Bailey, Demetrius Wright and Nickell Robey. Robey is a 5'9" ten foot tall recruit. He's got a 40" vertical leap and is lighting fast. What about Patrick Hall who could have been the jewel of last year's class?

In the weeks ahead we will be talking about the depth chart, and who could be the starters coming out of spring camp? The coaches are working hard at evaluating players right now on film. But there will be some surprises after spring practice.

We will share some about special teams, what USC might do with the scholarships they still have in hand, how USC's current players look. WR Ronald Johnson looks quicker and faster than ever. Can USC develop Harfman as a kicker? Will Seantrel Henderson sign with USC? I think so. When he talks about USC he says, "we."

Will James Boyd surprise everyone at TE this spring?

It's going to be fun getting the answers to some of these questions before Sept 2nd. But, of course even more questions will have appeared on the horizon by then.


Faces of the Future: Dillon Baxter, Kyle Prater, Robert Woods and D.J. Morgan.


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